Daily Bible Reading

Our foolish preaching

If we break down the message of the Gospel and look at it as an outsider might, it really is a foolish message.

A young girl gets pregnant before her wedding. The baby doesn’t belong to her fiance, but he marries her anyway. When she goes into labour, the only place they could find to stay was a stable. The kid grows up with his mother and adoptive father and trains in the family business—carpentry. He causes a bit of a ruckus, but by all accounts (and they are few), he’s a normal kid. At the age of thirty, he decides to make a bit more of a stir and hand-selects a group of people to follow him. Commercial fisherman and social outcasts are among those selected. This man from nowhere special then travels around with his little group and pretty much stirs up the religious people. He says things that are contrary to what they believe and he hangs out with people no one should be hanging out with. He performs all sorts of miracles—which many would have attributed to witchcraft. By the end of three years, he’s earned himself an execution. When he’s dead, all that’s left of his three years of wandering the countryside are a few men and a handful of weeping women.

Great story. No wonder so many people won’t listen to it! But that’s not the end.

This strange man with a contrary message didn’t stay dead. He came back to life in glorious fashion and continued to share his message with his followers for another forty days before disappearing. He disappeared.

This is the great message we are supposed to share with the world.

When people want to tell a story about one man saving the world, they send a superhero. Someone with extraordinary strength, power, and character. Someone with skills and abilities that go beyond being able to swing a hammer and tell a great story. They tell a story about an invincible hero who will always be around to save the day.

Our hero died. On purpose.

It is the fact that Jesus walked into his own death that makes our hero’s story the most extraordinary. He didn’t do what people expected of him. He did more.

I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT)

In order to be the hero that saved the day once and for all, Jesus had to do things differently.

Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all those who believe.

1 Corinthians 1:21 (NLT)

The world may see our message as foolish (void of understanding or sound judgement; weak in intellect; unwise; imprudent; acting without judgement or discretion in particular things; ridiculous; despicable), but there is far more wisdom in it than anything the world could ever come up with.

This “foolish” plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:25 (NLT)

God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NLT)

We can look at this story of salvation as the world might—a sad one of a strange leader and his motley crew that somehow managed to do enough to have their story told for millennia. Or we can see it for what it really is—an incredible story of sacrifice and salvation. The story of the world’s greatest hero born in the most humble of circumstances. The story of one man who gave up his own life not for his glory, but the glory of his Father and the salvation of the world.

God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT)

Our story doesn’t end with death. It continues with life. Life everlasting.

Not so foolish, is it?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 112-115, 1 Corinthians 1

Daily Bible Reading

Disappointed?

It’s a horrible thing to say, but disappointment is pretty much a part of life. I’m not sure anyone can get through life without someone letting them down, expectations not being met, or hopes fading. To think about it very long can become a disappointment in itself.

As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believe in him will not be disappointed.”

Romans 10:11 (NLT)

Paul’s message to the Romans takes those thoughts of being let down and gives hope to the discouraged. Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed. That’s not to say that life will become a bed of roses, but rather that God Himself will not be a let down to us. He will not disappoint those who truly believe and trust in Him.

Salvation comes from trusting in Christ—which is the message we preach—is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, “The message is close at hand; it is on you lips and in you heart.”

Romans 10:8 (NLT)

Salvation, a relationship with God though Jesus, is not some vague, unattainable idea. It is here and now and it is for everyone—not just a select few.

For “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:13 (NLT)

And if what God said was true thousands of years ago, it still stands true today.

No, I will not break my covenant;
I will not take back a single word I said.

Psalm 89:34 (NLT)

Faithfulness is your very character.

Psalm 89:8b (NLT)

For someone whose very character is faithfulness, it would be pretty difficult to be a disappointment. Even if life has let you down, God will not. He cannot. It is not in His nature to do so.

Your unfailing love will last forever.
Your faithfulness is as unending as the heavens.

Psalm 89:2 (NLT)

If disappointment has you down, take some time to focus on God’s unfailing love and unending faithfulness, the gift of salvation He has so freely given us. He is close. He is never far. Never failing. Never disappointing.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 88-89, Romans 10

Daily Bible Reading

Control freak

Nobody likes to hear the S word. Sin isn’t something anyone wants to or enjoys talking about. Even sinners don’t like their actions to be referred to as sin. It’s a dirty word. And so it should be. But just because sin is dirty, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address it or even talk about it. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. So how do we deal with it?

We don’t.

He [Jesus] died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God.

Romans 6:10 (NLT)

Jesus already dealt with sin. He defeated it. There is no maybe about it. There were no little stragglers that escaped. Jesus got it all. He didn’t just win the battle, he won the war.

What does this mean for us?

Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Romans 6:6 (NLT)

There are days where sin feels mighty powerful in my life. I struggle with the temptation to give in—and often do. But if it’s lost its power, why is the struggle still there?

Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval.

Romans 6:16 (NLT)

Perhaps our struggle isn’t so much with sin as it is with control. Until the day we leave this earth, sin will always be an option. But just because it’s there doesn’t mean we have to allow it to control us. We should aim for the exact opposite.

So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11 (NLT)

Romans 6 goes on to talk about how we should be using our bodies as tools to bring glory to God. A tool is something to be used, controlled by the one using it. Our bodies should not control us, but we rather, should control our bodies. When we give ourselves over to sin, we give up control. Likewise, when we give ourselves over to God, we give Him control. The less control we hold for ourselves—the more we give to God, the less likely we are to give it up to sin. In a culture where control is everything, this is a difficult thing to comprehend or even accept. Yet the benefits in giving all control to God far outweigh the disadvantages (because there are no disadvantages).

For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

Romans 6:7 (NLT)

Sin doesn’t have to control us. We don’t have to try to control sin. We must simply give all control over to God. Easy in words, not so much in action. But I believe that the more we strive to give God complete control and ask for His grace in doing so, the more freedom we will find.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 75-77, Romans 6

Daily Bible Reading

Just the right time

There’s a lot of waiting for the right time. We hear it often. There’s a right time for farmers to plant crops. There’s a right time for a couple to start a family. There’s a right time for that special person to come along. There’s a right time to start school. There’s a right time for that promotion. There’s a right time for just about everything.

Because we spend so much of our lives waiting for the right time, it often has an effect on our response to Jesus. Some people are told that they have to wait for the right time for salvation. Well, guess what? It’s now!

Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2b (NLT)

There are those that may leave the impression that a person must be in the right place in their lives in order to be saved. You need to finish something. You need to change something. You need to know more. You need to do less.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Romans 5:6 (NLT)

Utterly helpless. That doesn’t sound like a person who has it all together. That sounds like a person who has completely fallen apart. That is the person Jesus came to save. Jesus didn’t die only for those people who are good enough. News flash—no one is good enough. We cannot save ourselves from our own sin.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 (NLT)

Jesus took to the cross of his own free will knowing full-well that there would be those who would refuse his sacrifice. There would be those who would try to earn the gift that he was giving. Some might even try to pay for it. Knowing all of that, he still gave up his life on the cross for all of us who would recognise our own sinfulness and humble ourselves enough to accept what he went through—shedding his blood as the final sacrifice that would wipe our sins from all heavenly record.

Because of Jesus, we can step into a new relationship with God free from any guilt and shame that may plague us.

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.

Romans 5:11 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 73-74, Romans 5

Daily Bible Reading

Opportunity knocks

OPPORTUNITY: Fit or convenient time; a time favorable for the purpose; suitable time combined with other favorable circumstances

Opportunity sounds like a good thing to me. Who wouldn’t want a time favourable for a purpose? Who wouldn’t want favourable circumstances?

Many people, though, through the misguidance of others or through their own ignorance aren’t even aware of the greatest opportunity that will ever be offered on this side of eternity.

The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by crucifying him. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this to give the people of Israel an opportunity to turn from their sins and turn to God so their sins would be forgiven.

Acts 5:30-31 (NLT)

Jesus died to give us an opportunity—a suitable time combined with favourable circumstances—to turn from our sins and turn to God so we can be forgiven. When is that opportune time? Right now. It is always right now.

For God says,

“At just the right time I heard you.
On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2 (NLT)

Today is the day of salvation. Today. Right now. This moment. For one reason or another, there are a great many people who believe that they must wait to receive salvation. That they have to somehow make themselves better in order to be even offered the gift. Nothing could be further from the truth! The gift has already been offered. The opportunity given. The only thing that can prevent anyone from receiving the gift is themselves by not reaching out and accepting it.

Too many people have made salvation far more complicated than it really is.

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9 (NLT)

Can it get any more simple than that? Stop waiting for the right time. The right time is now! Jesus is waiting for you with open arms in whatever state you’re in at this very moment. Go answer the door because opportunity is knocking.

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Revelation 3:20 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Esther 4-6, Acts 5:17-42

Daily Bible Reading

Bonus post: Already passed

When you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, did you feel any different? Did you feel invincible? As though you could take on anything and triumph? Did you feel as though you’d live forever? If you felt any of that, how long did it last?

Ask anyone who’s been a Christian for more than ten years. Odds are that they do not feel invincible. I can guarantee they’ve aged since their conversion. And they’ve probably failed at more than a few things.

After being in the faith for a while, verses that claim we are more than conquerors can become challenging to truly believe. We may even begin to doubt what the Bible says about us, yet wait for the day when we can claim eternal life.

But did you know that, if you’ve accepted the incredible gift of salvation, you are already alive? As in alive forever? Never to die. I don’t mean physically. I’m not sure I’d even want to live forever. But that moment when your spirit cries out to the Holy Spirit a miracle takes place. That dry, dead spirit is brought to life.

I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

John 4:24 (NLT)

Already passed. As in it’s happened. Done. Not something we need to wait for. Our eternal life doesn’t begin when we die. It begins when we come alive in Christ. Hey Church, let’s stop acting like dead people who have no life! We have the Way, the Truth, and the Life living inside of us! Because Jesus is alive, we’re alive.

Daily Bible Reading

I lay it down

We always talk about how Jesus was killed. He was murdered. He was put to death. But was he really?

When Jesus was finally sentenced to being flogged and crucified, the religious leaders thought they got the last laugh. They got what they wanted. The man who threatened their entire way of life would die. They would have him killed.

Read the scriptures again. Yes, Jesus was sentenced to death. Yes, Jesus was flogged. He was crucified. But was he actually murdered? Was he really put to death?

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46 (NLT)

He shouted. As he hung on the cross in unbearable pain for crimes he did not commit, he shouted. He raised his voice so every ear in the vicinity could hear that he would not be put to death. He gave his life of his own volition.

How angry the Jewish leaders must have been. In the moment when they expected to finally be able to breathe that sigh of relief, the man they wanted to have killed made sure everyone knew his life was given willingly. And Jesus had to do so.

The Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may have it back again. No one can take my life from me. I lay it down voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it up again. For my Father has given me this command.

John 10:17-18 (NLT)

By proclaiming with his last breath that he was giving up his life into God’s hands, Jesus was fulfilling his own words. Those words took all power away from the men who put him on the cross. Little did they know that, in their anger and indignance, they played right into the plan of God. By putting Jesus on the cross, they fulfilled prophecy and gave the plan of salvation another big push toward fulfillment.

The next time you consider the account of the cross, keep in mind that, while Jesus died, he was not put to death. He laid down his life voluntarily. For me. For you.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 8-9, Luke 23:39-56